|System: Xbox 360, PS3*, PC|
|Dev: Slant Six Games|
|Release: March 20, 2012|
|Players: 1-4 (Online)|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language|
by Angelo M. D'Argenio
When I first played Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City at last year's E3, I admit that I wasn't impressed. I liked the idea of a four-player co-op shooter based in the Resident Evil universe, but the game suffered from stiff controls and obscure mission objectives, making it a chore to play. The enemies were either a pushover or impossible to defeat, the game engine glitched like crazy, and nothing about it gave me that feeling of Resident Evil tenseness that defined the survival horror genre. Instead, all I got was frustration. But this was almost a year ago, and I was confident that Capcom would fix up the game before it hit shelves in 2012.
My optimism has turned to disappointment.
Not only have the controls barely changed from the demo version, but the game itself seems even more glitchy than before. It just feels unfinished, like Capcom didn't put a whole lot of effort into it. But, I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's start with the first big flaw: the story.
Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City puts you in the shoes of a crack security force working for Umbrella Corporation during the events of Resident Evil 2 and a bit of 3. It's your job to wipe out all evidence of the Raccoon City outbreak and eliminate any survivors that might be able to tie it back to Umbrella.
The problem with "interquels" like this is that it's hard for players to actually care about what is going on. Sure, you get to see Leon Kennedy and Claire Redfield as they relive events of Resident Evil's past, but you barely get to interact with them. Since this crack security team never really showed up in other Resident Evil games, you essentially have no real impact on the story. Capcom built this game up as an opportunity to "rewrite Resident Evil," but even that isn't all that compelling. Remember, you are the bad guys here. If you succeed in rewriting history, then the conclusion is that nothing happens. Leon never survives; the zombie outbreak is contained, blah blah blah. It's like you are actively on a mission to make the Resident Evil story more boring. That's a shame, because the plot of Resident Evil has never had a problem with being compelling.
Then there's the gameplay, which completely misses the point of Resident Evil's "survival horror" style. While you were well-armed in past Resident Evil games, you always felt like the zombies and other Bio-Organic Weapons were a threat. You were constantly afraid of death, even while you peppered your undead foes with a shotgun. The threat of finding a Licker or a Regenerator or a Spaniard with an axe kept you on your toes and gave you a feeling of accomplishment when the smoke cleared and the corpses of your enemies littered the ground.
That's not the case in Operation Raccoon City. Your guns are extremely powerful and ammo flows like water. You can essentially just hammer on the fire button and Rambo your way through each level. Each of the six different classes is overpowered in its own right, with skills that do all sorts of wacky things, from giving you more ammo to actually controlling the zombie hordes. This should make the game more fun, but it actually doesn't. Instead, it just makes the enemies feel inconsequential. Eventually, you'll face off with U.S. Spec Ops (i.e. the good guys) in your missions as well, and, at this point, the zombies become nothing more than an annoyance, interrupting you in the middle of your gunfights.
It's not just enemy A.I. that's annoying either. Your A.I. teammates are just plain stupid. They will run out into plain sight and get themselves shot up any chance they get. They love running in front of your firing path in the middle of a fight, and they will never ever kill an enemy that's targeting you. They will also never heal you when you need it. Instead, they will just wander through the levels with you, acting as dead weight and stepping on mines that you previously avoided easily.
Then there's the competitive multiplayer, which really shows off the weaknesses of the game's engine. Guns here are powerful but extremely inaccurate. You'll find that you can't pick off your enemies at a distance through skilled shooting reliably. Instead, it's a lot better to run right at them, guns blazing. Only, this isn't even that great of a strategy since the characters handle so sluggishly. Characters are so slow that strafing is nearly impossible, so you are left hammering out melee attacks and hoping your opponent dies first. All the while, the zombies continue to nip at your heel, so every kill and death you have feels entirely random.